Fabric addicts, tell me if this sounds familiar to you. You’re at the store, eyeing some pretty yardage. But you don’t need any new fabric, you feel like you shouldn’t spend any more money on fabric, it’s not 100% what you had in mind, and you reluctantly put the bolt back on the shelf. You walk out of the store feeling proud of your sense of restraint, your frugality, your ability to rise above and not succumb to the sick fabric addiction characteristic of mere mortal seamstresses.

But then a tiny pang of regret bubbles up, and you bravely push it aside and tell yourself you’ll work it off at home with 50 bicycle crunches, feeling smug about your clever idea to replace fabric with exercise. As the days go by, you find yourself thinking more and more about that fabric- the one that got away.  It starts to seem like every pattern in your collection would look great in it.  You look through your fabric stash and realize you have nothing like it.  You look through your closet and realize everything in it would go with that fabric. You search online and realize that everything out there is inferior. Meanwhile, the fabric you’re obsessing over is long gone, or perhaps you left it behind in another state or another country.  In any case you didn’t get it and now you can’t get it, and you also never got around to those crunches, did you?

This has happened to me a couple of times, and those fabrics still haunt me like the plaintive puppies at the shelter that I couldn’t bring home. But, it did NOT happen to me this weekend when I was fabric shopping in Montreal! And this typically long preamble brings me to my story:

I mentioned in my last post that the good folks at Sam Textiles offered the most cheerful service I encountered at the fabric shops on St. Hubert. I have to say that they were certainly the exception, and I was at first taken somewhat aback at the aloofness in most of the stores.  I was surprised that I generally was not acknowledged or greeted in most of the stores- even in NYC (not generally recognized for warm and fuzzy service, and I say that as a native New Yorker myself), a hello is pretty standard. But perhaps it was just a strange coincidence in the stores at Montreal, or perhaps it’s just a cultural difference – no big deal in any case, as the staffers weren’t rude, unpleasant, or unprofessional… except for one!

While prowling through one of the fabric shops (pictured above, and not one of the places recommended by readers), I discovered a black and white striped knit, and as you may remember, I’ve been trying to find one for a while and still haven’t quite found what I’m looking for.  This one wasn’t quite what I was envisioning either, perhaps a little too much sheen, perhaps a bit too heavy and coarse, but it was the only one I’d found that day and might have worked. It wasn’t marked with a price, so I brought it to the table.  The woman measured out the remainder of the roll and finding that it was only 1.7 meters told me that she would not cut it- I would have to take the whole piece or none, at $10 per meter. Fair enough. I stood there waffling for a minute on whether it would be worth it to buy twice as much as I needed, whether it was too shiny for what I wanted, Dan making sympathetic “hmmmm” faces. In the meantime, the woman was looking grumpy and impatient as though I were wasting her time. (Hint: if you want to minimize the necessary interaction with your customers, perhaps putting prices on stuff would be a good first step.) Finally I said thank you but it was not what I was looking for.  In response, the woman gave me about three seemingly endless seconds of the stink eye and then wordlessly turned her back to me and started rolling the fabric back onto the tube. Dan and I looked at each other in shock before suppressing giggles.

The first thing I said to Dan when we left the store was, “Wow, I wasn’t sure about that fabric in the first place, but she made me really glad that I DIDN’T buy it!” Thank you for that, impressively rude fabric shop lady – it’s three days later, and not the merest hint of regret over fabric not bought, nor tiniest twinge of guilt over bicycle crunches not done!